Realogy Holdings (formerly Domus Holdings) has the goods for domestic bliss for a lot of people. It is the largest franchisor of residential real estate offices in the world with about 13,500 offices in more than 100 countries. Its brands include Century 21, Coldwell Banker, ERA, Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate, and Sotheby's. In addition to franchising, the company owns and operates about 700 offices under the already mentioned brands along with the Corcoran Group and Citi Habitats labels. It also provides relocation, title, and settlement services, and mortgages. The residential real estate giant changed its name and went public in late 2012.
Realogy boasts the world's largest residential real estate brokerage business (under its subsidiary NRT LLC) and the world's largest residential real estate brokerage franchising business (under RFG), offering a large portfolio of well-known brands. Its company-owned brokerage operates under the Coldwell Banker, Corcoran Group, Sotheby's International Realty, ZipRealty, and Citi Habitats brand names. Its franchise brands include: Century 21, Coldwell Banker, Coldwell Banker Commercial, ERA, Sotheby's International Realty, and Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate.
The company generated nearly 75% of its total revenue from its company-owned real estate brokerage services in 2014, while 13% came from its real estate franchise services, and 7% came from title and settlement services under the company's Title Resource Group subsidiary.
In addition to its company-owned and franchised real estate brokerages, Realogy is a leading provider of employee relocation services in the US and internationally, serving nearly two-thirds of the Fortune 50 companies. The company's relocation services business, Cartus, generated 7% of all revenue in 2014.
The US accounts for 98% of New Jersey-based Realogy's revenue. The company's relocation services business is active in the US, Canada, Europe, and Asia.
Sales and Marketing
The company's Title and Settlement Services provide closing and escrow services to customers and real estate companies, including the company-owned real estate brokerage and relocation services businesses, as well as a targeted list of large financial institution clients, including PHH Corporation.
Realogy's company-owned brokerage offices staffed some 45,000 independent sales agents in more than 45 of the 100 largest US metropolitan areas in 2014. It spent about $188 million on advertising during the year, up from $174 million in 2013.
Realogy's business has been steadily growing in tandem with the strengthening US housing market for the past several years. Revenue in 2014 inched about 1% higher to $5.33 billion, thanks mostly to a 5%-plus increase in the average homesale price through both its Company-Owned Real Estate Brokerage and Real Estate Franchise Services divisions. Lower refinancing volume through its Title and Settlement Services segment, along with 2% to 3% lower home sale transaction volume, however, offset some of Realogy's top-line gains.
The company's profits reversed course in 2014, with net income plummeting by 67% to $143 million as it incurred $87 million worth of income tax provisions with an effective tax rate of 37%. In 2013, by comparison, the company received a non-recurring income tax benefit of $242 million, which allowed profit to skyrocket for the year. Cash levels in 2014 also declined as cash earnings shrank.
With the housing market improving in recent years, Realogy is growing its real estate brokerage operations through strategic acquisitions. Less than a year after purchasing ZipRealty in mid-2014, the company announced that it would begin rolling out ZipRealty's tech-savvy platforms to certain franchisees as well as their independent sales associates and their customers. Realogy believes the new tools offer tremendous value proposition to customers and should boost sales in the years ahead.
Beyond large company acquisitions, Realogy likes to purchase local real estate brokerages to expand its reach into communities. In 2014, for example, one of its NRT subsidiaries bought the Harrisburg, Pennsylvania-based, multi-office residential brokerage and property management firm Realty Select (doing business as Coldwell Banker Select Professionals, Select Property & Association Management, and Select Partners) to expand its business in the region. In 2013, the firm's NRT subsidiary spent $32 million to acquire 15 similar real estate brokerage operations.
Mergers and Acquisitions
In July 2014, Realogy Holdings agreed to acquire California-based ZipRealty, a national real estate brokerage and provider of technology and comprehensive online marketing tools to the residential real estate brokerage industry, for $6.75 per share in an all-cash deal valued at $166 million. ZipRealty operates 23 offices in 19 markets across the US.
Realogy in October 2012 raised $1 billion in its IPO, a vote of confidence of sorts in the recovery of the residential real estate market in the US. Realogy used the IPO proceeds to reduce its more than $7 billion in debt. Despite losing $540 million in the two years prior to its IPO, the firm believed the real estate market was poised for recovery. Its strategy included growing all segments of its business though it offered no specifics on that front.